Last updated:

More resources needed to reduce clot deaths

Doctors need more resources to help to prevent VTE (venous thromboembolism) and save hundreds of lives each year, the BMA has said.

A report by the Welsh Assembly health and social care committee says VTE guidelines, set down by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in 2010, are being routinely ignored.

BMA Cymru Wales has said the Welsh government needs to provide more resources and staff to enable clinicians to achieve the required standards.

The one-day inquiry into VTE prevention among hospital patients in Wales was told by thrombosis charity Lifeblood Wales that 900 deaths in Wales in 2010 were due to, or associated with, hospital-acquired blood clots or thromboses.

In its report (PDF), published last week, the committee says up to 70 per cent of the deaths could have been avoided if preventive measures had been in place.

Committee chair Mark Drakeford said: ‘Risk assessment alone will not ensure patients avoid developing blood clots during hospital care. It has to be considered alongside the use of appropriate treatment — whether in the form of blood thinning medicines or specialist stockings — if lives are going to be saved.

‘But the committee has raised concerns at evidence that some clinicians routinely ignore guidelines set down by their peers.’

Lack of consistency

The committee wants to see more consistent assessment methods, and has called on the Welsh government to establish a standard procedure to record and reduce cases of hospital-acquired thrombosis, which would be mandatory across all local health boards.

BMA Welsh secretary Richard Lewis said: ‘BMA Cymru Wales supports evidence-based improvements in healthcare, and their universal application across health services in Wales.

‘But appropriate resources and staffing levels must be delivered by the Welsh government to enable clinicians to achieve consistently the required standard.’